Freeze Your Veggies

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Blanching Vegetables  What does this pot and bag of sliced beets have to do with freezing vegetables?  Well, surprisingly, I just learned a lot about the proper way to freeze my vegetables.  Now that I load up on deals at my local farmer’s market, I have found myself with more veggies than I can eat.

On a recent trip I was given some information on storing fruits and vegetables, how timely.  It said something about blanching before storing your vegetables in the freezer which was totally new concept for me.  I assumed I could just throw them in a freezer safe bag and they’d last me.

Blanching is the process of starting to cook something and then stopping it mid stream, basically by boiling for a short time and then shocking it in cold water.  Above is how I started that process with my beets.  As usual I forgot to take pictures but this is the same batch during the shocking process.

Blanching Beets

How to Blanch and Freeze Veggies

  1. Boil about one gallon of water to one pound of peeled/sliced vegetables.
  2. Place prepared vegetable in water. Boiling time (see below) starts from when the water returns to a boil after adding your vegetables.
  3. Prepare some ice cold water in a large bowl.
  4. Once vegetables are done boiling, drain, and dump them in ice water and cool for same amount of time as boiling.
  5. Drain vegetables and pack in freezer safe bags.

That’s it!  Simple right?  I’ve frozen beets, potatoes, and squash so far.  There are some vegetables that you just can’t blanch, but I have successfully frozen some, non water based, vegetables without blanching.  Try it out and do what works best for you.  I like this method because there was no need for thawing.  I threw my sliced potatoes into a pan, seasoned them, and baked them in the oven and they were done in the same amount of time they would be if they were fresh!  Great way to have seasonal local vegetables out of season, and easy on your wallet too.

Blanching Times

  • Asparagus                                                          3-4 min
  • Beans (lima, snap, green)                               3-4 min
  • Beets                                                                    30 min
  • Broccoli                                                                 3 min
  • Brussels Sprouts                                                 4 min
  • Cabbage                                                              1 1/2 min
  • Carrots                                                                  4 min
  • Cauliflower                                                           3 min
  • Corn                                                                       5 min
  • Greens (collard, chard, kale, spinach)             2 min
  • Mushrooms                                                          3-5 min
  • Parsnips                                                                 2 min
  • Peas (green, snow, sugar)                                 1 1/2 min
  • Potatoes                                                                 5 min
  • Summer squash and zucchini                            3 min
  • Turnip and turnip greens                                     2 min

 

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Apple Whole Wheat Muffins

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We go grocery shopping every Monday for the upcoming week, but since we’ve been on a new budget we’ve stopped meal planning in advance.  Now, we take what produce and protein we can get and build our meals around it.  By the end of the week, however, we tend to have leftovers.  This is totally due to the fact that we no longer have a plan, so meal planning is key folks!

This Sunday I spent my day cleaning and looking for recipes to exhaust my extra fruits and veggies.  We had two large gala apples and I was scouring Pinterest for a baked apple recipe.  Something where I could cook them and just add them to recipes or oats through the week.  I thought of making apple chips, but I would get so few of them out of 2 apples.  Also thought of making pancake rings, which look yummy, but might not get eaten.

I settled on muffins.  Decided I wanted to use either coconut or whole wheat flour, maybe some Greek yogurt, few eggs, and no butter.  I did not find this elusive recipe, and I was too worried to risk my last apples on winging it.  So I found a decently healthy apple muffin recipe and modified it.

As usual I forget to take pictures, but here is the final batter before folding the apples in. Apples & Batter |Apple Whole Wheat Muffins  When your done your batter should look like this, do not over mix! Batter |Apple Whole Wheat Muffins  Fill up your baking liners or tins very near the top, the batter does not expand a lot. Before| Apple Whole Wheat Muffins  Your muffins will be yummy apple goodness when they’re done baking! Apple Whole Wheat Muffins

Apple Whole Wheat Muffins

• 1 ½ cups oats
• 1 cup all purpose flour
• ¾ cup packed brown sugar
• 1 tsp. baking powder
• ½ tsp. baking soda
• 1 tsp. of ground cinnamon
• ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
• ¾ cup plain non-fat Greek Yogurt
• 1 ⅓ cups coconut or rice milk
• 2 egg whites or 1 whole egg
• 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
• 2 cups of peeled and diced apple

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line muffin pan with 12 baking cups or spray pan with cooking spray.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.
  3.  In a small bowl combine Greek yogurt, milk, egg whites and oil and blend well.
  4.  Add mixture to dry ingredients and stir together until dry ingredients are moistened (don’t over-mix).
  5. Fold in apples, stirring just until combined.
  6. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
  7. Enjoy! Recipe makes about 15-17 muffins.  Taste great warm.

 

Chocolate [Bean] Cake

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Does the title sound appetizing?  I promise you, even if bean cake sounds like an afternoon in the bathroom, your fears will be dissuaded once you try this deliciousness.

Finished Chocolate Bean Cake

I first tried the cake when a co-worker, who is also on a healthy eating journey, brought it in for everyone to try.  So moist and chocolatey with a tangy sour cream frosting.  Delicious and gluten free!  So I nabbed the recipe from her magazine (literally took a picture with my cell), but I don’t know the title of the publication.  If anyone knows, please let me know in the comments!

I’m bad at taking pictures while I’m cooking or baking anything but I made it a point this time, just so you have a visual confirmation that this: Black Beans |Chocolate Bean Cake

will turn into that cake above!

First step is to rinse the can of beans as seen in the picture.  Next step are to mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl.

Dry Ingredients |Chocolate Bean Cake  The remaining wet ingredients, save vanilla, will be whisked in your mixing bowl.  Everything will end up back in this bowl to be used with your mixer. Wet Ingredients |Chocolate Bean Cake  Black beans then get food processed into a finer texture with sugar and vanilla. Processed Beans |Chocolate Bean Cake   When your batter is all combined as directed, it will look like this when poured into the prepared pan.

Before Baking |Chocolate Bean Cake  Note: I didn’t have parchment paper as directed by the recipe, USE IT.  My cake had to be put back together once I got it out of the pan, and this is not my first time baking!

I also included my modified version of the sour cream frosting using my trusted substitution.  When the cake is all done it will look like this, yum! Chocolate Bean Cake

The cake is gluten free, and if you use sugar substitutes, which I haven’t tried yet, it can be even healthier!  A sinfully delicious chocolate cake for about 224 calories a slice.  Bring it to a party, and barring allergies, don’t tell your friends of the secret ingredient.  I bet they’ll never guess.

Chocolate [Bean] Cake with Greek Yogurt Glaze

Ingredients

  • Coconut Oil or cooking spray (for pan)
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder (for dusting)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup Plain Non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. Let eggs stand at room temp for 30 minutes (this is a good rule for all baking).  Meanwhile preheat oven to 350* F. Grease a 9 x1/2″ round cake pan with coconut oil or cooking spray.  Dust with cocoa powder, shaking out excess.  Line with parchment paper, dust with cocoa again, and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the melted coconut oil, eggs, and water; set aside.
  4. In a food processor combine black beans, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt; process until smooth.
  5. Add bean mixture to coconut oil mixture, stirring until well mixed.
  6. Add the cocoa powder mixture and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for one minute.
  7. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake about 30 min, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely.
  8. Meanwhile combine glaze ingredients in a small bowl and stir until smooth.
  9. Spread cake with yogurt glaze, letting some drip over the edge. Chill for 20-30 minutes before serving. Makes 12 servings.